The first day of a parliamentary election in Egypt saw 15-16 percent of voters in the country turn out to cast ballots, Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said Monday.
Voting for the much-delayed 596-member parliament is being staged in two phases ending December 2, with the first round of polling across 14 of Egypt’s 27 provinces beginning on Sunday.
“The turnout on the first day was between 15 and 16 percent,” Ismail said, quoted by state news agency MENA.
Sunday’s turnout was sharply lower than the 62 percent registered in the first stage of the previous parliamentary election in 2011.
That election had been held over three stages, and in the first round there was voting in nine of the 27 provinces.
That parliament was dissolved in June 2012, just days before Islamist Mohamed Morsi was elected as president, the country’s first freely elected leader.
The 2011 election, the country’s first democratic vote, had been held when Egypt was gripped by a revolutionary fervour following the ouster of veteran leader Hosni Mubarak after a 18-day popular uprising.
Ismail said the turnout was “expected to rise” after the government announced public sector employees would work only half a day Monday in order to have time to vote.
Polling stations closed on Monday at 1900 GMT and the vote count began immediately after, officials said.
“The final results will not be announced now,” said electoral commission spokesman Amro Marwan, without specifying when they would be.
Witnessing listless voting on Sunday, the authorities had also urged the private sector to “facilitate” voting for their employees.
Experts say the results of the new parliament are a forgone conclusion, with elected lawmakers expected to firmly back President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s iron-fisted regime in the absence of any opposition.